Big League - Restoration

There is no good solid reason I should spend time and energy on this game. Pre-flipper machines aren't very popular with collectors, and they're not worth very much. This one is a typical example, with a book value of $500 in decent shape. Nearly everybody would consider this a basket case; maybe good to pull some parts off of, but that's it.

That said, I'm having a ton of fun working on it. I'm obviously not in it for the money! Since it's basically a 'resurrection from the dead', I'm not going to concern myself too much about using certain techiniques that some people may consider harmful to the collectibility. I'll point out what I mean by this as I go...



The backglass needs help. This is the most unfortunate aspect of this game; and would be the main thing that would prevent most people from even bothering to fix the machine up. I will probably never find a replacement, and there is no way to replace the missing artwork.
The best thing I can do is to stop the damage where it is. That is done with a clear glaze product from Krylon, that is sprayed onto the artwork from the back to seal it in. But first, I wanted to clean the glass as best I could, otherwise I would be sealing in a lot of dirt! I realized at the time that that would mean more paint loss, but that's the way it goes. Above are some shots of the backglass before cleaning and sealing.

Here's the final sealed glass. I figure there's about 11% total paint loss.



This machine came with wooden legs, like all games did back then. These are a bit unusual; being triangular. Bally apparently used this leg design for only a very few years.
These legs have seen 56 years of neglect. The bottoms of them had become very beat-up and rotten from water, mopping, etc. I decided I would simply cut them short and attatch new wood at the bottom. This might be one of those things that some restorers wouldn't do, but I figured I had very little to lose.

Here are just a couple of problems.. A chunk of wood came off of the leg on the left, and this was cut off above the break.
The leg on the right had split at some point, and somebody actually ran a bolt through the leg to keep it standing (arrow).
I ended up removing the bolt and nails, and repairing the leg with glue and filling the space with a wooden dowel.


Here's what I repaired the legs with. It's not the original oak, but since the legs are just painted anyway, I'm not too worried about the wood itself.
I cut the piece into approximately the right size, but still oversized so that I can form each leg individually.

Unpainted legs

Fast-forward a bit... The legs have been repaired, and the new ends put on. They are actually finished, sanded, and ready for paint

Backbox Mechanism - Points Unit

There are a number of similar units in the game... Stepper units that keep track of game status and enables certain features to be turned on or off as appropriate. This game has several: One to keep track of points, one for runs, another for innings, and yet another for credits. I decided to start with the points unit...

Here is the before and after shots. The unit was removed and completely disassembled, then the parts were either cleaned with a wire wheel or put into a polisher for cleaning. What had been a very sluggish mechanism now works very, very smoothly.
You can see that I also replaced the piece of wood that the unit mounts to. The old one was warped very badly from the weight of the point unit.

On to the Playfield!